Record-breaking painting: Sky Arts celebrates a decade of the nation’s favourite art competition

Record-breaking painting: Sky Arts celebrates a decade of the nation’s favourite art competition

Over a thousand keen artists of all abilities from across the globe picked up their brushes to paint portraits of national treasure Sir Lenny Henry, setting a brand-new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title.

The live portrait painting event at Lindley Hall, London, was hosted by Sky Arts to celebrate a decade of the nation’s favourite art competition, Portrait Artist of the Year. Each of the participants had just sixty minutes to complete their portrait of Sir Lenny Henry on an A3 canvas using acrylic paints.

Two hundred people took part in person, travelling from as far as Yorkshire and Glasgow to participate in the portrait painting celebrations. An additional 1150 art lovers painted along online from across the world via a livestream broadcast on Facebook and TikTok hosted by presenter Yinka Bokinni, with people tuning in from Norway, Portugal, Canada and the US. Livestream participants included students from Art-K, an art school for children and adults with studios across England and Wales, and schools who participated in Sky Arts’ Access All Arts Week initiative.

Recently crowned Portrait Artist of the Decade, Gareth Reid, was also on hand to offer his expert advice, helping people of all ages and abilities try their hand at painting, with many painting a portrait for the first time.

Sir Lenny Henry said: The record attempt was amazing and surpassed all my expectations. It was inspiring to see so many artists of all abilities and ages come together. Seeing 200 portraits of me in person was quite a moment – they were so varied - and I loved chatting with the artists about their work. What a great way to celebrate Portrait Artist of the Year’s tenth anniversary.”

Miriam Amankwa was one of the artists taking part at Lindley Hall: “I really enjoyed myself! My favourite part was getting to know the other artists, seeing their work at the end, and how people translated their art styles through their paintings.”

For the past ten years, Sky Arts has led the charge on finding the best portrait artists in the UK with the help of judges Kate Bryan, Kathleen Soriano and Tai Shan Schierenberg. Last year, Morag Caister was crowned the winner of the series and was invited to paint a portrait of actor, comedian, and writer Sir Lenny Henry for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, said: “It was lovely to welcome so many fans and aspiring artists down to Lindley Hall this weekend to celebrate the tenth series of Portrait Artist of the Year. It was fantastic to have Sir Lenny back sitting for us and to see how much the artists accomplished in an hour - we definitely had some stars of the future in the room.”

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